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Southeast Asia, an area of the world-renowned for its extremely harsh punitive measures against marijuana is making groundbreaking moves towards legalization - at least in Thailand, anyways.
by Dessy Pavlova · May 16, 2022
The Thai government announced it will be providing 1 million cannabis plants to households across the nation for free in June, to coincide with a new law that allows households to grow their own plants.
Thailand has had a difficult history with cannabis use, with both residents and tourists seeing harsh punishments even for small amounts. Possessing up to 10kg of marijuana can cost up to 5 years in prison and $1500 USD in fines - this is the “lighter” sentence, as it is not considered to be with intent to sell.
Then, Thailand became the first and only Southeast Asian country to legalize cannabis for medical use and research in 2018, a bold step forward in an anti-drug culture. In 2021, the use of CBD and Hemp was approved for use in products like cosmetics and drinks, and this year, the Thai government announced it will allow THC levels up to 0.2%, and cannabis was officially dropped from the list of controlled drugs.
Now, on June 9th, Thai households will be able to grow as many cannabis plants as they wish but will have to follow several requirements. Each household must notify their local government, and the plants need to be medical grade and be intended for medical use only. Additional licenses will also need to be obtained for commercial purposes.
Historically, Thailand’s economy relied heavily on the tourism industry, being ranked the 8th most visited country in the world in 2019. In the pre-COVID era, Thailand saw 40 million visitors and an average of over 7 million jobs created per year. In 2020, Thailand’s tourism industry crashed with the rest of the world and continued to do so into 2021. This step towards legalization may provide the spark to reignite it.
Medical and health-related trips to Thailand are already common, with many visitors coming in to do plastic surgery and attend wellness retreats, so local experts feel cannabis will be a natural fit. Many restaurants, cafes, and spas already offer hemp and CBD-infused products and will be able to expand their products with the new legislature. This will also support the rural communities, as about a third of Thailand’s population works in agriculture. The Thai government estimates that each household could earn up to $13,000 and the government could see revenue of over $300,000 per year.
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